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Murder case to be reinvestigated under Double Jeopardy legislation
The Crown Office has announced that it is to review the murder of Surjit Singh Chhokar, who was killed in 1998. Strathclyde Police have now been instructed to carry out further investigation into his murder under the Double Jeopardy legislation introduced in November last year.
The Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Act 2011 came into force in Scotland on 28th November 2011. Key elements of the Act include:
- Restating and clarifying the ancient law on double jeopardy, removing the anomalies and uncertainties identified by the Scottish Law Commission in its 2009 Report on double jeopardy.
- Allowing a second trial in very serious cases where, after an acquittal, compelling new evidence emerges to substantially strengthen the case against the accused.
- Allowing a second trial where the original trial was 'tainted', e.g. by intimidation.
- Allowing a second trial where, after an acquittal, evidence becomes available that the acquitted person has admitted committing the offence.
- Permitting the prosecution of a person on a more serious charge where the victim has died after the original trial.
Other cases are currently under review by the Solicitor General which may be able to be prosecuted anew under the Double Jeopardy Act. The Crown is actively reviewing and examining potential cases as part of a programme under the new legislation.
Double Jeopardy cases are handled by the Cold Case Unit, part of the COPFS Serious and Organised Crime Division.
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